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Thailand deports beggars, group says

Thailand deports beggars, group says

THAI authorities have completed the deportation of more than 500 Cambodian beggars rounded up in Bangkok earlier this month, a Thailand-based rights group said Thursday, as activists registered concerns about the possible deportation from Thailand of thousands of migrant labourers.

Jackie Pollack of the Mekong Migration Network, a network of nongovernmental organisations in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region, said every member of a group of approximately 570 Cambodians had been sent back over the border from Bangkok, and that more were being arrested “every day” as part of a campaign to crack down on beggars in the Thai capital.

Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs deputy spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said Wednesday that the deportation was conducted “in accordance with our immigration laws” in an effort to prevent trafficking.

In an open letter to Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva published this week, 36 organisations, including Human Rights Watch, called on the Thai government to clarify its migrant worker policy after Bangkok set a deadline of February 28 for migrant workers to register with the government and complete a Nationality Verification process.

“We would be most concerned if the [Thai government] decides to adopt a policy not to renew work permits and deport migrants,” the groups wrote.

There are 124,174 Cambodians registered to work in Thailand, Pollack said, with “probably at least the same number undocumented”.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHEANG SOKHA

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